Zimbabwe is targeting China, Russia and South Africa tourism markets with the hope of growing the numbers that visit the country to sample its hospitality per year.

China has the highest out-bound tourism market in the world and tops the list as equally the biggest spender, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) statistics.

However, despite the cordial relations that Zimbabwe has with China under the Look East Policy, the country has not fully exploited the lucrative Chinese market.

In an a press briefing at the close of the Sanganai Hlanganani World Tourism Expo, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) CEO, Mr Karikoga Kaseke said in line with the authority’s focus, this year they targeted buyers from Russia, China and South Africa so that they can package Zimbabwe as a destination of choice.  

He said there is need for the country to retain South Africa as the country’s biggest source market and work towards ensuring that the 1,6 million tourist arrivals from South Africa at its peak in 2006 compared to the current 700 000 is retained.

Mr Kaseke also expressed confidence in the continued growth of the Sanganai/Hlanganani expo where both local and foreign exhibitors recorded good business with at least 40 percent of exhibitors having confirmed deals.

Meanwhile, ZTA has commended the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development for offering to support the tourism industry through availing funding to market the nation.

The marketing of a destination is a costly process and before the country starts enjoying the fruits of tourism, there is a need to mount an aggressive marketing drive and this means the ZTA must be well resourced in order to package the country as a prime destination.

“The commitment by the Ministry of Finance to avail resources to the ZTA, may improve the country’s streams of foreign currency revenue, which are currently nestling on gold, platinum, diamonds and tobacco,” Mr Kaseke said.

He also hailed the commitment by the finance ministry to establish the tourism revolving fund whose purpose is to help build the capacity of local tourism players so that they meet the international standards.

Mr Kaseke also took a swipe at local tourism players for overpricing their products when compared to their regional counterparts.